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2022 Assembly

 

Damaris Community House, Greece, shares August-September newsletter

 

My dear friends,
September is here, the month of school opening and preparation for the new academic year. We are so glad to have young beneficiaries who are about to continue school, aiming for a higher education and a brighter future and leaving behind their difficult pasts. Damaris House stands by them and expends great effort to help them achieve their gradual, long-term recovery and to equip them with the right life skills for a smooth integration.  
 
During the first week of this month, I personally escorted all of our girls to spend some time at a seaside hotel at Sounio, Attica. As you know, every summer we try to offer to them a time of relaxation and quality time like we personally enjoy in our own holiday vacations. They had the chance to enjoy the sea but also to swim at the hotel swimming pool – a unique experience for them! We also had some young volunteers with us who joined our company, interacting with the girls and their children.

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Sister Imelda Poole IBVM receives waves of positive engagement against human trafficking in visit to Loreto College, Manchester, UK.

 

Sister Imelda Poole, former president of RENATE Network, presented to students and staff last week in a visit to Loreto Sixth Form College in Manchester, England. She was herself inspired and amazed at the positivity of the college’s response to what she shared about the fight against human trafficking in Europe. Her recount of the experience is a great example of how impactful awareness-raising efforts can be, for any of RENATE’s members hoping to reach out to educational institutions in similar ways.

I was in the college for two working school days on Monday and Tuesday, September 18 and 19. It was truly the most amazing and inspirational two days in school which I have ever experienced. The students were wonderful. I had the privilege of many coming for a chat after each session and some even volunteering to work with us. I met Albanian students living with relatives and taking advantage of an English education. We hope to meet up in the summer. A trainee psychologist from Albania hopes to volunteer in the Mary Ward Loreto Advice and service centre in Tirana where her family live. During the lunch time 10 RE/ Theology teachers with the three school chaplains,  invited me for a buffet lunch to understand more. I felt very humbled by such commitment to this mission.

I also used two films: one at the beginning called: ‘ An Economy without trafficking and secondly during the presentation I used the Albanian BBC film. I invited the students to move into silence after each film and to reflect on how they were feeling and what insight or what struck them from the film. They then went into buzz groups and shared something of what they heard to the whole hall. Thank God there were always the few brave enough to speak. It was indeed a very moving time for me. I felt very grateful for the opportunity. Before lunch I made a quick visit to the chapel in the centre of the college and surrounded by the art, drama and crafts department. A wonderful venue. Actually the head of Theology was in full stream leading an Assembly with 50 Students on Mary Ward and justice, although he had no knowledge I would be visiting at that time he had included me in the Assembly so out of the blue I found myself raising awareness for 10 minutes to another group of students. All pretty amazing experience for me. I feel very grateful.” – Sr Imelda Poole

The college’s head of RE reached out to Sister Imelda following her visit to express gratitude and share the extent of the impact she had made in mobilising many to engage and fight to end Human Trafficking.

“I just wanted to say thank you so so much for coming to Loreto last week and presenting to our students. We have had such positive feedback and I know our students will remember it for many years to come. I’ve looked at class numbers and over the two days you reached over 1625 students! We would love to keep working with you in the fight to end Human Trafficking. In Advent we would love to send cards of hope, I could plan a lesson if you could perhaps provide some real-life stories for students to hear. We will also of course be fundraising for you but if you need anything else, please do get in contact!! You are truly inspirational! Thank you again for the excellent information you provided.”

The powerpoint used in Sister Imelda’s presentation can be downloaded here.

Fears arise over abuse and kidnapping of girls in earthquake zone in Morocco

 

Sources: Paudal, Al Jazeera

Journalists in Morocco have highlighted that women and girls are in danger of abduction and abuse during the fallout of the recent catastrophic earthquake.

A series of posts on social media have drawn this concern, which promoted the abduction and marriage of underage girls from Morocco.

This activity on social media has drawn the alarm of activist groups and the Moroccan government, who conclude that would-be sexual predators are using the disaster as an opportunity to take advantage of vulnerable persons, some using the guise of volunteering to provide aid as a means of access in order to groom young women and girls for exploitation.

Click on the above links for the original reports on this matter by Paudal and Al Jazeera, including insight from correspondents based in Morocco.

RENATE members gather in Malta to begin a 5 day member’s retreat

 

On 20th September 2023, 10 RENATE members from 6 different countries gathered to begin their 5 day retreat in Mount St. Joseph’s Retreat Centre, Malta. The retreat, led by Father Ray Pace and co-ordinated by Sr. Patricia Mulhall, will be a poignant time for these RENATE members to engage in daily reflections, Mass, and nightly prayer services. We look forward to hearing more of their time spent in retreat, and wish them all a gentle and rejuvenating experience.

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RENATE Retreat
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“Protect people in prostitution”, say MEPs

 

FEMM Press Release, European Parliament

Parliament, on Thursday 14th September, called for EU action to tackle prostitution and eradicate poverty.

The report on prostitution in the EU and its impact on gender equality and women’s rights was approved by MEPs with 234 votes in favour, 175 against and 122 abstentions.

The report highlights that the disparity between national rules on prostitution within the EU, given its cross-border nature, increases the number of victims of human trafficking for sexual exploitation and makes it a platform for organised crime. Member States should review existing legislation to avoid loopholes, which allow criminals to operate with impunity. The Commission is called on to develop common EU guidelines to guarantee the fundamental rights of people in prostitution.

Measures to reduce demand and advertising online:

According to the MEPs, prostitution and sexual exploitation exist because there is a demand for it. Reducing demand is therefore crucial to prevent and reduce human trafficking and must be done in a way that does not harm people in prostitution, they say. MEPs call on Member States to take urgent action to tackle online advertising that directly or indirectly encourages prostitution or seeks to attract buyers.

MEPs also call for support  and cooperation with the police and other law enforcement agencies, social and health services and NGOs to tackle human trafficking and sexual exploitation and protect women in prostitution.

Access to essential services and protection of rights of people in prostitution:

The deteriorating social and economic situation due to COVID-19, and the current energy and cost of living crisis have led to an increase in all forms of abuse and violence against women, including sexual exploitation, with many women in vulnerable situations of poverty and social exclusion.

MEPs demand an efficient policy against poverty. They want to improve social protection, promote education and establish policies that support women’s empowerment and economic independence, along with measures that condemn those who abuse.

People in prostitution face the constant threat of police and legal prosecution and are marginalised and stigmatised, the report says. This hinders their ability to seek justice. MEPs call for full access to good health and social services, as well as to the justice system and pathways out of prostitution.

Quote: Maria Noichl (S&D, Duitsland), Rapporteur: “Today, Parliament gives a voice to people, and especially women, who are too often overlooked, marginalised and stigmatised in our society. We support those who have long warned about the reality of prostitution. This report outlines why the vast majority of people end up in prostitution, and highlights the way forward: creating exit programs and alternatives, eradicating poverty and social exclusion, dismantling stereotypes and inequalities, and reducing demand by targeting buyers.”

Read the report here

Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission (IHREC) Conference to launch the second annual report on trafficking in human beings in Ireland.

 

On 13 th September 2023, IHREC held the launch of their second annual report on trafficking in human beings in Ireland in Dublin, Ireland. The conference, attended by RENATE members and fellow colleagues in the fight against Human Trafficking hosted a number of panellists and discussions on the findings, recommendations and future plans for the continued fight against human trafficking in Ireland.

The IHREC report is available to read here


Chief Commissioner Sinead Gibney discussed some of the key recommendations from the second annual Trafficking in Human Beings in Ireland Report in a filmed interview published here: https://twitter.com/i/status/1701974163219431817

News from Croatia: Marking the World Day Against Trafficking in Persons 2023.

 

On the occasion of World Day Against Trafficking in Persons, 30th July 2023, Sr. Stanka Oršolić, Croatia, gave a short interview to the reporter Emina Dabo Hunjak about the abuse, exploitation and trafficking of children for the National Croatian Television Station. The interview was broadcast one month later on the religious program “Peace and All Good” on 3rd September 2023. This date was the same as the release date for the movie “The Sound of Freedom” in Croatia.

Sr. Stanka’s interview can be found here.

Sr Stanka Oršolić